A central tool of Digital Benin, the catalogue forms one of two digital spaces on the platform where the dispersed Benin objects are re-assembled. Object data from 131 institutions across twenty countries that currently hold 5,246 historic Benin objects can be searched, filtered, studied and viewed.
The data that institutions passed along to Digital Benin between 2020 and 2022 is linked in this catalogue, which allows the following interactions across all datasets. All filters have been authored by Digital Benin following rigorous research. Search Use the search field for a free text search across all data. The results are sorted by the most exact matches and descents to partial matches. All searches, also in combination with filters, show ‘and’ and ‘or’ results and are sorted by prioritising ‘or’ results. Multiple filters and searches To apply multiple filters and free word searches, select the plus sign on the right next to the ‘All Fields’ filter. Filters All Fields: Next to the search bar are fields that link all datasets on the metadata level, which means that one can search for words in specific fields outlined in the ‘All Fields’ drop-down menu. Selecting a field without a word search shows all metadata fields that are linked to this specific one. For example, selecting Provenance will show all objects that have a provenance field. Digital Benin has preserved the data structures and content provided by institutions, reflecting the ways each institution records, stores and presents its own data. The institutional data has been linked to a Digital Benin-authored metadata structure, which is displayed in the filter and in the object data as a Digital Benin tag. Edo Designation: This filter is based on a controlled vocabulary of Edo designations. It links objects with the relevant Edo designation. Selecting a designation will show the objects that have been grouped together under it. This filter can be explored further in Ẹyo Otọ. English Designation: This filter is based on a controlled vocabulary developed by looking closely at English-language scholarship relating to Benin objects as well as the data provided by the institutions. Selecting an English designation will show the objects connected to it. Object Category: Object categories show the overlapping uses and functions of objects both in the past and the present in Benin Kingdom. Some objects are grouped in more than one category, reflecting the multiple functions and uses of these objects. Provenance: The provenance filter shows all unique provenance names identified in the institutional data. The unique name is linked to the field that shows the original spelling of the name provided by the institution. Selecting a provenance name will show the objects linked to it. Institution: All institutions that provided data about the historic Benin objects in their collection are listed here. Selecting an institution will filter all other searches in the data of this institution alone. Filters as a research tool: These different filter tools allow users to see objects that are linked to different Edo designations, English Designations, Categories, Provenance and Institutions. When the filters applied, it is possible to see the relationship between these different filters through the counts shown in other filter windows and the remaining filters that are available to select. For example, when applying the 'Relief Plaque' in the English designations filter 858 objects are viewable. The equivalent Edo designation 'Ama' can be seen, meanwhile in the Institutions filter, only the 72 institutions which have Relief Plaques within their collections and the 224 names which are associated with those Relief Plaques can be filtered for in the Provenance filter. The filter tool thus shows the relationship between the different Digital Benin research areas, and can offer a way of using Digital Benin as a tool to understand networks of objects, people and institutions. Views Object Cards: Each time the catalogue loads, random objects are shown in a card view along with the image, institution, object ID and Digital Benin-authored research. When a search or filter is applied, these cards show snippets of the search results in the object data. Contain and Expand: By selecting the ‘Contain’ button, object data are displayed as cards that show the results in short snippets. Selecting the ‘Expand’ button shows the search results in a more expanded context. Digital Benin Research The Digital Benin research shown on the object cards comprises the English designations, Edo designations and provenance names. The research is linked to these filters. Object Data By selecting an object card on the image or object ID, the full data can be accessed, including all images provided by the institutions. The back button of the browser retrieves the search and filter results in the catalogue. The object data shows an expanded view of the Digital Benin research described above in filters that can also be accessed as links to the research spaces on the platform. Selecting the loudspeaker next to the Edo designation plays the vocalisation of the term. Selecting the Edo designation will lead to all the objects grouped under this designation and further Digital Benin research about these grouped objects. The links to provenance names will lead to the Provenance space with biographies and objects linked to the unique names. The institution location links to the map, which also shows the other institutions and Benin Kingdom sites. Selecting the institution leads to the institution’s page with information such as address, website, online catalogue and objects in its collection. All images provided by the institution can be enlarged, and 3D scans, when available, are shown as interactive images. The images are sorted when possible, first showing the frontal view, second the side views and third the historical images and catalogue cards. The data was provided by the institutions and has not been changed, edited or cleaned. We provide a trigger warning with suggestions for alternative wording when the language is offensive, racist or violent. The Digital Benin tags next to each field title are the metadata links for the catalogue’s ‘All Fields’ filter.